Forums apps are great, you get to share your passion with people all over the world. Learn new things, share experiences, discuss different topics, and produce meaningful interactions with people who love what you love.

Life before the internet must have been dull. If you were the only person in your hometown with a specific hobby or interest, you’d be completely starved of interaction about your favourite thing. You’d have to spend hours seeking out anything related to it and generally just annoy your friends hoping one might gain an interest.

With the internet came online forums and everything changed. Your interactions were no longer restricted to who you knew, could talk to, phone, or send letters. You could find or create forums around topics that mattered to you.

With the rise of smartphones forums migrated from websites to having dedicated forum apps. With apps for hosting forums, you could see the latest posts on the move.

However, a forum app designed to host different types of forums has to appeal to as broad an audience as possible. This goes against the nature of online forums which cater to unique communities built around specific subjects, sometimes oddly specific. Taking a community based around one of these and fitting them into a default template forum seems counter-intuitive. They also only provide basic, generic functions with little customisation.

The best forum app is going to be specific to the community using it. To help you achieve this we’re going to go through everything we know about building your own forum app.

Benefits of building your own forum app

Building your own forum app puts you in complete control. You get to build something unique to your community. There are platforms available that create forum apps for you, and you can build one without any knowledge of coding.

Disciple is a community platform builder. We believe each community is unique and important with its own culture, ways of talking to each other, interests and needs.

Good forum software offers everything you could ever need to build your own forum app. This often includes a wide range of tools and features to make your life easier. The aim of most forum platforms is to allow you the freedom and choice to use your own branding, tailor the look and feel to your community’s needs, and help you reach your goals. 

Some forum platforms have a public API feature that allows you to integrate existing tools. Also, if you download the forum app from an official app store, you should get quality software that will be regularly updated and meet the app store’s guidelines. 

Disciple ticks all of the above boxes and gives you an all-in-one platform to build and host your forum app for iOS and Android.

Complete control

Forum apps provide the technology required for you to build your forum’s community in a safe space that is owned and controlled by you. From the design and operation of your forum app to the data and value it generates, you’re in complete control.

Don’t put the data of your users in the hands of someone else. Make sure that the forum app you decide to use is a GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) compliant platform. This means it will have built-in security levels to ensure your forum operates in a trusted and secure environment.

A good forum app will provide you with the option to customise your forum, so you can get the look and feel just right and build the best forum app possible.

Produce revenue directly

If you’re a company trying to build a community around a brand or product, or a life coach, wellness coach or artist looking to provide information about new content. Disciple allows you to generate income directly from your forum. 

At Disciple, we call this the “passion economy”. Basically, you can harness people’s enthusiasm and interests around a specific passion into something that generates revenue.

Whatever your method of monetisation, Disciple offers full support to implement it seamlessly into your forum. Whether it is eCommerce, tiered subscriptions, or paywalls for exclusive content.

Disciple’s Console

With Disciple’s easy-to-use Console managing your forum app is easier than ever. You can control all aspects of your forum directly from the Console:

  • Easy and quick publishing of content
  • Set it and forget it by scheduling posts in advance
  • Get to know your community and manage membership database and profiles
  • Gain valuable insights about your community by accessing analytics
  • Control the way your forum works by using integrations & API
  • Make sure your community is warm and welcoming by using moderation tools

How to create forum apps

After all that it might seem straightforward to create a forum app. Although Disciple will provide you with all the tech for creating the best forum app out there. If you want to make it successful, you’re going to need a strategy. To get started, it’s a good idea to have a clear idea on your:

  • forum topic,
  • purpose of your forum,
  • type of person you want to participate in the forum,
  • how you are going to build your audience,
  • required features,
  • and the design of your forum app.

Forum topic

With so many forums already available online, it’s important to choose the topic for your forum app carefully. Look for a subject or interest that is currently not best served by what is available. Or take a fresh angle on a popular field to make your forum app stand out. For example, if you build a forum app around football you’re competing against a large number of established forums that have already found their niche audience.

You can go even further still, by sub-niching. To find a sub-niche, you need to look a little closer at what your forum is all about. 

For instance, say you’re a life coach specialising in helping online influencers. In this case the overall niche is helping online influencers to manage and get the most out of their lives. Sub-niches could include practical ways to live better: fitness regimes or workouts, healthy eating, mindfulness, etc. If you find the right sub-niche it can really help your brand to stand out from the crowd and build a thriving community.

Forum purpose

Make sure you have set goals for what you want to achieve with your forum. Do you want it to be a place where people come to discuss the latest news about a topic? Is it a place for providing education in a certain field? Is it a forum app to promote collaboration and social interaction around a specific hobby?

Whatever it may be, make the purpose of your forum app clear from the outset.

Forum audience

The topic and purpose of your forum app will guide how you choose the type of people you want to use it. Whether you want it to be a place for the hardcore and experienced or a place for newcomers. People looking to offer opinions or curious people there to ask questions.

Whoever your target audience is, it is important to have a strategy for attracting them to your forum app. It’s a busy and hectic world, the people with an interest in the topic likely already have sources of information and discussion around it. To be successful you need to offer an advantage over what they already use. 

For example, let’s say you’re an online fitness coach. There’s a good chance that your ideal audience already attend a gym or fitness classes in real life. Why would they want to use your online service too? You need to make them aware of the advantages: 

  • convenience – you can follow workouts in your living room 
  • time – you can just do 10 minute sessions when you get the chance
  • relationships – they can make new friends in the community or forum
  • notifications – keep them up to date with the latest information
  • motivation – you can contact them directly through notifications, emails, etc. 

If migrating your forum community from a different platform, we make sure we provide our customers with all of the resources, guides, and tips they need, to make the move to a custom forum app as seamless as possible.

Forum design

This last section covers the overall design of your forum. 

Let’s start with the appearance. Obviously you want your forum to look appealing. But, a good rule of thumb is to keep it fairly simple too. You don’t want too much going on, otherwise the screen can look cluttered or confusing. Pick a simple colour scheme that matches your brand and stick to it. 

In terms of the presentation of your forum, it really depends on the type of content you’re likely to be sharing. If you share a lot of text content, you want it to flow nicely for reading. If you’re sharing lots of video content, you want API’s that make it easy to play video content. To make life easier, you should look for a forum app that includes a content library, giving you a central place to store all your files.

The important thing to remember when customising your design and presentation, is to keep it intuitive. People don’t want to sit through a 10 minute tutorial on how to use your forum. They want to jump right in and use it straight away. Don’t make them wait!

Lastly, you need to design how your forum works. This includes setting out use guidelines. Don’t worry if you don’t get these right to begin with, most forums regularly update their guidelines as things progress. You also need to think about moderation. Are you going to moderate the forum yourself, or get volunteers or paid staff to moderate it for you?

Final Words

It may seem like there is a lot to learn about creating forum apps. But with Disciple, you have access to everything you’ll need and the experts who can help you bring your forum to life.

To learn how it works, start a free trial, or book a demo, click here.